By Jan Loisell
For supporters of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) and DAIS’ soon-to-be new Northside neighbors, Aug. 1 cannot come fast enough. That is the day DAIS will announce their capital campaign for a new facility, and the excitement is palpable.
DAIS purchased the property at 2102 Fordem Ave. last summer and the plans for the transformation of what was formerly a retail show room, repair shop and warehouse, are well underway. The side of the building that runs along Fordem Avenue will remain intact though substantial changes will be made. Other parts of the building will be replaced with a design that includes a green space that will be appreciated by adults and children alike. Since the former owner departed the premises several years ago the building has stood vacant and its abandoned appearance hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It is wonderful to know that this tired old building is finally up for a facelift” stated Melinda Ferraro who lives in nearby Maple Bluff. “And the fact that it will be used for such an important cause makes it that much better.”
However, the facelift will have to wait until the funds are raised for the project. Announcing the DAIS Capital Campaign is a long-awaited and important step.
“We often say that our capital campaign has been the worst-kept-secret ever. There has been such enthusiasm and excitement around this effort. Those who know DAIS well and saw the tremendous need years ago thought we had already moved into a new home,” said Shannon Barry, Executive Director of DAIS. “The truth is, we were always acutely aware of the need but we were determined to move forward in a responsible manner by making decisions that would be sustainable.”
After years of just getting by and making do, the current situation is no longer an option. The headlines in recent weeks are tragic, stark reminders that the need is here in our community. Domestic violence crosses all lines of age, gender, economic status, educational level and race. Although Dane County has a reputation for being a great place to live – which certainly it is – there are still ways in which the community comes up lacking.
Most people are shocked to know that Dane County has only one emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. If that weren’t enough, even more shocking is the fact that the DAIS emergency shelter is also the smallest domestic violence shelter per capita of the entire state of Wisconsin. According to Patti Seger, Executive Director of Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence “It is a fact that Dane County, the second largest county in Wisconsin, has one of the most challenged shelter facilities for domestic violence victims in crisis. The small capacity of the shelter has meant that DAIS has had to screen out all but the most lethal situations and manage a long waiting list.”
The new facility will have 56 shelter beds for women and children who experience domestic violence. The new site will also allow DAIS to increase and enhance programs, provide more space for children’s programs, expand crisis intervention services, add support groups, enhance legal advocacy services and increase opportunities for partner agency collaborations.
“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Barry “as this is a dream that has been decades in the making. We really did our research and it was abundantly clear that we couldn’t pick a better location than the Northside of Madison. It has been both heartwarming and encouraging to see how welcomed DAIS is and we can’t wait to move in.”
DAIS will help boost the bottom line to the Northside as well. The number of regular, full-time employees working for DAIS is expected to increase from 21 to approximately 34. DAIS has a robust roster of volunteers that currently number over 130 and which they also anticipate will significantly increase. Barry notes that DAIS is excited to play a role in economic development of the Northside where she grew up and where her parents and many friends still live.
“I have deep roots on the Northside of Madison and it will always be ‘home’ to me. I hope to see many Northsiders at our event on Aug. 1. What could be better than a kick off with friends? It sort of feels like a ‘Welcome Home’ event both for DAIS and for me personally.”
Successful fundraising is key to realizing all of these dreams. Seventy-five percent of the $7 million DAIS Capital Campaign will need to be raised before a shovel goes into the ground. Ideal Builders and Potter Lawson architects have been working with DAIS for some time on the pre-construction design activities. Construction itself should only take about 8-10 months from start to finish. Approximately $5 million needs to be raised to complete the campaign. DAIS hopes to be able to open the doors in early 2014 or earlier if possible.
Loren and Boo Mortenson are Honorary Co-Chairs and Northsider Holly Berkenstadt is the Chair of the DAIS Capital Campaign. As domestic violence has such a tremendous impact on our entire community, it is not surprising that Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney are both spokespersons for the campaign.
“Our hope is that when people learn of the need and the campaign that they will step up to help and join so many who are working to make life better and safer for all,” Barry remarked. “Financial support is extremely important, but we also have many other ways people can get involved. We hope people will reach out to us and help make this dream come true soon!”
If you would like to donate or get involved in the DAIS Capital Campaign contact Jan Loiselle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-4012. For more information visit www.abuseintervention.org.